Trump Cuts to EPA Would Damage Public Health, Not Help Pentagon

Annual Cost Overruns at Defense Department are Triple Entire EPA Budget

Washington, D.C. – President Trump’s proposal to slash the budget of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to help pay for a buildup at the Pentagon would damage public health while making no measurable improvement to national security.

“EPA’s total annual budget is just over $8 billion, which is hardly more than a rounding error next to the $600 billion the Defense Department spends every year,” said Eric Schaeffer, Executive Director of the Environmental Integrity Project, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization.

Schaeffer, former Director of Civil Enforcement at EPA, noted EPA’s enforcement of one law alone – the federal Clean Air Act – prevents at least 160,000 deaths a year from air pollution, including from 1.7 million asthma attacks triggered by smog and fine soot-like particles from coal-fired power plants.

Cutting EPA’s ability to enforce that and other environmental protections will likely mean more illness and death among average Americans, especially the elderly and young.

Meanwhile, the amount of potential savings that could be achieved by reducing EPA would have no significant impact on the Department of Defense, Schaeffer said.

“A review by the Defense Business Board found that the Pentagon could save $125 billion over five years by eliminating administrative overhead and other wasteful practices.  That’s $25 billion a year, enough to fund EPA three times over,” Schaeffer noted.

The Washington Post reported last December that the Board’s findings were buried inside the Pentagon to avoid undercutting the Department’s request for even more money.

“Eliminating EPA entirely and shipping its budget to the Pentagon might be just enough to buy a single Zumwalt class stealth destroyer – assuming that this money wouldn’t simply add to the $25 billion already wasted every year,” Schaeffer noted.

Update: News reports on Feb. 28 suggested that Trump is proposing a 24 percent cut to EPA’s budget (or about $2 billion) and reduction in its staff by about 20 percent.  If true, a cut of this size would severely impact EPA — but only represent the cost of about a quarter of a single Zumwalt class destroyer and be the equivalent of 8 percent of the money the Pentagon wastes every year.

The Environmental Integrity Project is a 15-year-old nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, based in Washington D.C., dedicated to enforcing environmental laws and holding polluters and governments accountable to protect public health.


Media Contact: Tom Pelton, Environmental Integrity Project, or 202-888-2703